In December 1854 at the time of the Eureka riot Philip Lamothe Snell Chauncy (1816 – 1880) was a surveyor at Heathcote . He was one of my great great great grandfathers. I am interested in working out where my forebears were at the time of the riots 160 years ago.

Philip Chauncy in 1878

In June 1853 the Chauncy family arrived in Victoria from Western Australia on the Alibi. In 1848 Philip married Susan Mitchell (1828-1867) in Western Australia. They had three young children, Theresa, Philip and William.

In September 1853, Philip Chauncy accepted the position of Surveyor-in-Charge of the McIvor district.  Heathcote was the centre of the McIvor diggings. McIvor was 72 miles from Melbourne. The journey there took the Chauncy family ten days. It rained for nine.  Philip describes the trip in a memoir he wrote about his wife Susie after her death in 1867. (Chauncy, Philip Lamothe Snell Memoirs of Mrs Poole and Mrs Chauncy. Lowden, Kilmore, Vic, 1976. (first published 1873) pp. 43-6)

In May of 1854, Philip was selling land at Heathcote, which about 80 miles north-east of Ballarat.

“M’IVOR DIGGINGS.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 20 May 1854: 3. Web. 27 Sep 2013 <>.
Sadly, in May 1854 his son Philip died of croup . I have written about this death in a previous post.

In May 1854, our darling little Philly caught cold, and Dr Sconce, the Government Assistant Surgeon, was called in to attend him. On the 12th of that month, Dr Robinson happening to be in our parlor-tent, and hearing Philly cough, said, “That child has croup.” O what agony the information caused his dear mother. A day or two after this we removed him into the large new stone building which had just been erected for officer’s quarters, but he gradually sank, and expired on the 19th May 1854, after a week’s illness.  (Memoirs of Mrs Poole and Mrs Chauncy. p. 47.)

Philip Chauncy was granted £1546 by the Government to construct a building to serve as a survey office and a residence for his family. The building, completed in 1854, still stands in the main street of Heathcote. It was built of sandstone in a Georgian style with walls of coursed rubble and three chimneys. In the 1850s there was a small arched entrance porch and arched windows with fanlights on either side. There were two rooms at the front and an arched opening leading to a passage at the rear with two more rooms opening off it. After the 1860s it was no longer required as a survey office and it was bought by the owner of a local store who made substantial timber additions. (Victorian Heritage Database )

The survey office and Chauncy’s house in January 2007
The survey office in 2007 showing the later timber additions
At the time of the Eureka rebellion in December 1854, Heathcote was a prosperous and growing gold mining town.

THE VICTORIA GOLD FIELDS. (1854, December 7). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), p. 3. Retrieved July 22, 2014, from

The Eureka riot in Ballarat in early December just over 80 miles to the south west did not slow mining activity in Heathcote. A public meeting was held at the Heathcote Hotel on 15 December which discussed prospecting, noting that about fifty puddling machines had been erected on the creek and seemed to be doing remarkably well. No mention was made of the riot or license fees.

M’IVOR. (1854, December 19). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 4. Retrieved July 22, 2014, from

On 10 June 1855 Philip and Susan’s fourth child, Auschar Philip Chauncy was born at Heathcote. In 1857 my great great grandmother Annie Frances was born at Heathcote and in 1859 her sister Constance was born there. Altogether, the family spent six and a half years at Heathcote then, in 1860, moved to Dunolly.